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Re: [ox-en] Fwd: Towards a Natural P2P Theory

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it is best to see nature-culture etc.. as a nested hierarchy ...

Culture cannot exist without nature, but nature can exist without culture,
but once culture exists, it can influence nature ...

What Marc is saying is that we cannot have a peer production culture,
without the right inputs from nature

and because we are doing this today in a nature-destroying way, we need to
change our cultural rules of how we use nature

you say: This includes the availability of energy in the
needed form. But that's trivial.

well, I think that not's trivial at all ... we are depleting the resources
of nature because we use the wrong kinds of energy and use too much of it

what Marc is trying to achieve I think is a system of incentives that leads
us easily to make the right choices in that regard, and to insure that we do
not use more energy from the world than we take from it, because for human
purposes, energy is not infinite, but dependent on our ability to transform
it to our usage, and this is, historically speaking,not trivial at all ...


On Sun, Jan 4, 2009 at 8:52 PM, Stefan Merten <smerten> wrote:

Hi Marc and all!

Sorry for not being more responsive. I'll try harder to respond at
least to the important things.

First I need to quote the subject:

Last week (11 days ago) marc fawzi wrote:
Towards a Natural P2P Theory

I don't know for sure what you mean by P2P but for me peer production
is foremost a social phenomenon. The social sphere, however, can not
be understood by laws of nature. In fact the social sphere is a
cultural phenomenon and the cultural spehre is very different sphere
from the natural sphere. Culture and nature need to be kept strictly
separated at all times.

As an engineer, I'm much more familiar with natural/physical side than
social side, so this could be an opportunity to collaborate.

I don't think so. In the contrary it confuses people unnecessarily if
you mix laws of nature into discussions in the cultural sphere.

Let me give an example what mixing separate spheres means. Let's
assume I'm a religious person and as such I can explain all natural
phenomenons being results of the working of God. For instance for me
the apple doesn't fall from the tree. Instead it is taken from the
tree by some angels - who are God's helpers - and put to the ground.
Therefore we need to talk of the angels involved there. Would that be
a good basis for discussing the apple moving from the tree to the


We can define a model of society that is optimal with respect to our
and ideals,

This is very hard to imagine. Morals and ideals are not something
separate from society but rather some part of each society.

In fact you can argue that morals and ideals are a *result* of the
society they are part of - rather than being a precondition. History
shows that morals and ideals changed much when one (form of) society
transformed to the next (form of) society.

but if we do not look at the observed laws of nature (and
particularly the laws of thermodynamics), which constrain any model that
involves physical resources, the model will run aground sooner or later.

In the sense you don't mean this is trivial. Laws of nature can not be
abandoned or overcome. They simply rule.

In the sense you mean the laws of thermodynamics have little to do
with society. Each society is made of humans and thus a cultural

This does not make the social model any less relevant than the observed
physical laws. They are both equally important to understand, and they
be made to work together in harmony.

No. AFAICS thermodynamics are irrelevant when looking at society
beyond the trivial stuff.

In the context of this article, we are concerned with bringing P2P social
models and Thermoeconomic models (or thermodynamic models of the economy)
together in harmony in the form of a Natural P2P Social Theory.

Sorry but a "natural social theory" is simply an oxymoron.


Thermoeconomics is a general loosely defined economic model based on the
idea that the economic construct of cost is ultimately derived from the
of energy.

That is a really strange thesis. In fact in nature there are energy
flows since the big bang. These energy flows have *nothing* to do with
cost. So at least there are energy flows which can not be described by

In fact cost is a concept invented by humans at some point in history
and during history changed it's meaning often. We had that discussion
here recently.

In contemporary societies (aka money based societies) costs can be
easily identified with human labor. This is also true for energy and
its transformation. For instance the energy from the sun comes to
earth at no cost. Plants use this fact since an eternity and the
weather is another phenomenon driven by the energy from the sun.

Only if we start to transform sun's energy to other forms - for
instance by harversting plants or by operating photovoltaic cells then
human labor is needed. *Then* in the given societal framework it makes
sense to talk of cost. And though the cost of this labor involves some
energy this is only a fraction of the total cost of the labor.

May be you are confused by the fact that energy flows are involved in
nearly everything. But so are electrons and quarks. What I want to
say: Though there are layers and layers of spheres which in total make
up for a society to *understand* a form of society or even society as
a concept it is important to find the right level of abstraction.

Let me give another example. In a computer you have countless
currents. Zillions of electrons are moving around all the time and
changing direction at a high frequency. Do you really think that for
understanding a program - whose operation is based on these electron
moves after all - it makes sense to look at the electrons? Of course
not. Instead you need to climb up lots of layers of abstraction to
understand the program. The same applies to society.

This axiom (or starting truth) is then used, along with the laws
of thermodynamics, to construct a model of the economy that works with,
against, physical law.

The term Thermoeconomics was coined in the 1960s by American engineer
Tribus <>. However, the ideas
thermoeconomics are often arrived at independently and naturally by those
who have an interest in both the laws of nature and the economy.

Those people foremost need to learn to separate culture - which every
economy is a part of - from nature.

This author has been a model of P2P social currency

That point is probably part of the other thread and I'm going to reply
to this there.

that combines the
thermodynamic model of the economy from Thermoeconomics with the author's
evolving comprehension of P2P social theory.

Thus, this article, which strives to reconcile both worlds,

It's not by chance that these worlds are seen as separate even by
great scientists of nature like Charles Darwin [1]_. An attempt to
reconcile these worlds destroys both [2]_. I'd recommend to stop such

.. [1] A quote from Wikipedia:

        Darwin himself insisted that social policy should not simply
        be guided by concepts of struggle and selection in nature.


      The article on `Social Darwinism`_ gives further insights.

      .. _Social Darwinism:

.. [2] For someone like me it is indeed hard to see that nowadays such
      attempts become more and more fashionable again. For me this is
      another sign of the crisis of modernization.

is expected to
become part of the author's current work on P2P Social Currency for
Renewable Energy Economy<>
Towards a Natural P2P Theory Thermodynamic Cost Constraints in a P2P
Economy Laws
of Thermodynamics: Definitions

Thermodynamics is a branch of physics which deals with the energy and
of a system. Thermodynamics deals only with the *large scale response* of
system which we can observe and measure in experiments.

*1st Law* (also related: conservation of energy, conservation of mass,
conservation of momentum):

"Within a given domain,

Usually it is emphasized that this domain is closed.

the amount of energy remains constant and energy is
neither created nor destroyed. Energy can be converted from one form to
another (potential energy can be converted to kinetic energy) but the
energy within the domain remains fixed." (source: NASA website)

Though this law is certainly true it is largely irrelevant to human
societies because earth is an open system instead of a closed domain.
In particular there is a constant stream of energy from sun to earth
and the gravity of the moon combined with its orbiting earth also is a
source of energy from outside.

Laws of Thermodynamics: Implications

When it comes to bits and bytes that, in a P2P Economy, carry both the
transactions for goods and services as well as digital goods and
some of the the physical constraints that follow from the first and
laws of thermodynamics are:
1. The continuous cost of energy used for powering the hardware at every
point, from desktop to network core, mesh infrastructure or the hardware
landscape, including the communication channels (including the cost of
maintaining the energy generation capacity and adapting it into the

I don't know whether the term cost makes sense for a society based on
peer production. But of course the preconditions for production need
to be taken care of. This includes the availability of energy in the
needed form. But that's trivial.

The continuous cost of energy for the maintenance and adapting of the
hardware at every point, from desktop to network core, mesh
or the hardware landscape, including the communication channels. This
includes energy used in the development and manufacturing of new hardware
the production of replacement parts.

The means of production and the infrastructure - which BTW seem to
merge more and more in peer production - need to be taken care of.
This includes the use of energy as well as human efforts [3]_.

.. [3] I'm consciously avoiding "labor" because in peer production
      human efforts ideally are no longer (abstract) labor.

3. The continuous cost of energy for
powering our human hardware (or bioware), including our information
processing capability (our brain) and our communication channels (our
4. The continuous cost of energy for the maintenance and adapting of
our human hardware (or bioware), including our information processing
capability (our brain) and our communication channels (our senses)

If you in addition take into account everything which is needed to
maintain human labor then you have the cost of labor as defined for
money based societies.


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